JA Konrath

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savsav
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JA Konrath

Post by savsav » September 28th, 2010, 8:18 pm

hi,

I would be interested to hear Nathan's opinion (and the opinions of everyone else on the board)
about JA Konrath and what he has accomplished so far with ebooks.

here's a link:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

He is a mid-list author who has earned over $100,000.00 a year selling ebooks.

Impressive, isn't it?

SAV

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Re: JA Konrath

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 28th, 2010, 8:30 pm

I think he's certainly a key innovator and is making a very rational choice to price his e-books low and share his experiences, and I admire anyone who is blazing new trails in the new era. We haven't met, but I admire his blog and we've been friendly around the Internet.

Hope you don't mind if I copy and paste from an earlier discussion on my blog, where both Joe and I discussed our points of view:
Nathan wrote:I think treeoflife makes a good point, and it's one reason why I fear a tragedy of the commons situation with e-book pricing.

For those unfamiliar with the term, tragedy of the commons refers to a situation where there's a fixed resource, and individual actors, all acting out of their own rational self-interest end up depleting the resource.

Right now it's relatively uncommon to find good e-books at $2.99, so Joe and others are getting an early-mover advantage by pricing their e-books that low. But let's say every author, tomorrow, starting charging $2.99. James Patterson, Steven King, everyone. The first consequence is that the pricing advantage wouldn't be there anymore for Joe and others. The second consequence is that there is no way you can have a publishing industry at those prices. Prices that low are not something you can make up for on volume. They're prices enabled by cutting out the intermediary (i.e. publishers).

A race to the bottom on e-book pricing might be a rational choice for the individuals who get there first, but it's a dangerous game to be playing on an industry-wide basis.
Joe Konrath wrote:A race to the bottom on e-book pricing might be a rational choice for the individuals who get there first, but it's a dangerous game to be playing on an industry-wide basis.

While I love the publishing industry, my concerns are making a living, and pleasing my fans. If I can do both, better, without the publishing industry involved, they should have made themselves more relevant.

The race-to-the-bottom theory has a few problems. Publishing is no longer a closed system with a finite readership, as John Sargent alluded to in a speech. The number of readers are now unlimited, growing every day, and ereader device owners tend to read more and buy more, especially at a low price.

While I may not be on as many bestseller lists if all ebooks were $2.99, there's no clear reason to think my sales would falter. I'm not in competition with James Patterson. His fans can also be my fans, and at a low price point, there is no either/or when in a buyer's mind--they can buy both.

Amazon-as-monopolistic-distributor-of-books that would be necessary for this scenario to come to pass wouldn't be good for anyone but Amazon.

And, apparently, the consumer. Amazon is successful because it understands what the customer wants. The publishing industry simply does not. Hardcovers at luxury prices? Windowing? $14.99 ebooks? This shows contempt for the customer.

Besides, Amazon has no monopoly. Too many other players, too much other competition. But isn't it telling that none of the other players is a publisher?
Nathan wrote:joe-

Like I said, my hat's off to you, and I think you deserve credit for seeking new ways to reach readers and certainly your decision has sparked some interesting discussions.

I don't think, however, that there's an unlimited readership - there are only so many people in the world with so much time and so much money that they're able and willing to spend on books. This number is certainly malleable, and let's absolutely hope that the e-book era increases the pie, but infinite readership? No way.

I don't claim to know your readership better than you do and I trust your word that you could compete on the same footing as James Patterson even if you were priced the same. However, I think it's a mistake to assume that the best way forward for the entire industry is to do exactly what has worked for you. Every book is different, every author is different, and what works for one person might not work well for the other. While you may not see your readership decline if all books were priced at $2.99, I'm sure there are others that would. And is that really the best way for all authors to maximize revenue?

On Amazon-as-monopoly, you're right, we're not there, and thank goodness for everyone (including you, as you are seeing the amount they're willing to pay you go up as competition in the marketplace is increasing). Competition benefits everyone, and most of all the consumer. Choice is a good thing.
Joe Konrath wrote:@Nathan-Good response, thoughtful and level-headed. That's why I like your blog. Also, kudos for even mentioning it. Very other few publishing pros have.

This number is certainly malleable, and let's absolutely hope that the e-book era increases the pie, but infinite readership?

"Infinite" was a poor word choice of mine. But I believe the world will continue to embrace ereaders, and those with ereaders tend to read more ebooks than they read print books. I'm predicting an ever-widening growth without limits because technology keeps getting cheaper and better, and there are new adopters every day.

If the growth just stopped right now, I could see sales slowing down. But if an author can (and will) sell 1000 ebooks a day, while not infinite, it is certainly attainable.

I don't claim to know your readership better than you do and I trust your word that you could compete on the same footing as James Patterson even if you were priced the same.

Patterson would cream me, no question. But that's not the point I'm trying to make. Even if he sold 100 times what I sold, I would still be doing very well. He won't push me out of my market share. Fans can order both him, and me. Not in direct proportion--he's a powerhouse, and I'm midlist. But I wouldn't lose sales because of him, and I could still sell well in my niche.

In other words, if every ebook was priced $2.99, I don't beleive I'd sell fewer ebooks. I believe everyone would sell more ebooks. And combined with the growth rate of ereaders, I believe I'll be able to earn more than I ever have in my career. I don't think the race to the bottom will hurt authors, and the readers will love it.

But across-the-board low ebook prices will probably destroy traditional publishing as we know it, unless they figure out a way to compete.
Nathan wrote:Thanks for the kind words, Joe, and I don't think we disagree too much. I think you're acting rationally given the current landscape, and if things remain as they are I think people will follow you, which will have enormous repercussions for the industry. I also agree that there's enormous downward pressure on prices that publishers may be unwise to try and resist.

The wildcard for me is how many vendors there are, how much market share they represent, and how necessary it is for authors to go through a third-party distributor. That may not be much of a roadblock if there's are companies that fill that gap and automates everything for a very low fee/percentage. If, however, friction develops and an author needs a distributor/publisher we may end up back where we started, albeit with many more choices.

I'm very curious to see how it all plays out, but I share your essential optimism about this landscape. Nearly every book available instantaneously at a reasonable price? Where can I sign up?

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Re: JA Konrath

Post by steve » September 28th, 2010, 8:57 pm

I like Joe's blog and admire his stand against the status quo, but I'm not a fan of his stuff, though I've only attempted one book of his. I'll try another.

I can't help thinking he's a better polemicist than a novelist.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by sierramcconnell » September 29th, 2010, 4:53 pm

Interesting. So when people want to get published and are tired of being "dissed by normal methods" they'll think they obvious route is to just do what he did and price themselves at $2.99 to be a $100,000 writer.

It's kinda sad.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by Margo » September 29th, 2010, 6:01 pm

sierramcconnell wrote:Interesting. So when people want to get published and are tired of being "dissed by normal methods" they'll think they obvious route is to just do what he did and price themselves at $2.99 to be a $100,000 writer.

It's kinda sad.
Konrath used to point out that he believed this was only a viable path for established mid-list writers who felt they could do better or who were being abandoned by their publishing companies, writers who could bring their audience with them. I don't know if he still includes that caveat occasionally in his blog posts or not. Maybe he no longer thinks that.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by sierramcconnell » September 29th, 2010, 6:21 pm

Why have I never heard of this guy? XD
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by Mira » September 29th, 2010, 8:00 pm

I remember that conversation on your blog, Nathan. It was a very heated discussion, and your exchange with Konrath was a show stopper because it was so rational and colleagial (sp?) - as well as fascinating.

I admit I've never gone to his blog, but from what I hear I admire Konrath. I think he's a trailblazer. He and I tend to view the changing landscape in the same way as well, so I sort of cheer him on from the sidelines. I appreciate that he doesn't seem to have an axe to grind, but he is also unapologetic. Good combination.

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Re: JA Konrath

Post by Margo » September 30th, 2010, 11:53 am

sierramcconnell wrote:Why have I never heard of this guy? XD
I hadn't heard of him either until a conversation came up (here on Nathan's forums maybe?) a few months ago on author self-promotion and Amazon's foray into self-publishing service. To be fair to Mr. Konrath, I don't usually read in his genre, so it's not surprising I didn't know his name.

He started out with the traditional publishing houses and had several books on the shelves. Now he's writing books specifically for release online and is making more money than he did with a traditional publisher. It was traditional publishing, however, that launched him and helped him build the audience that he has continued to build through a crazy amount of self-promotion.

From what I can tell, he has always been a hyper-self-promoter. Frankly, he has spent more time pressing the flesh at bookstores and conferences than I could imagine. I absolutely think writers getting ready to develop an online presence and authors gearing up to promote an upcoming release would benefit from looking at his methods and recommendations and trying out the ones that fit their personality and the time they have available. The last update I saw from Konrath on his blog was about how he now intends to scale back the travel and promotion to concentrate on writing and family.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 30th, 2010, 7:43 pm

'Why have I never heard of this guy?' Good question, Sierramcconnell. How do we ever hear of anybody? A question which has long fascinated me.

Let me declare at the outset that I favor paper books, including hard-covers, windowing, and higher ebook prices, more than Joe Konrath, or perhaps even Nathan, does. I am also more optimistic about such things.

Neither Amazon nor anyone else can monopolize Ebooks. ANYONE or ANYTHING can be electronically published with increasing speed and ease. Nobody can control or corral that means of production.

What Amazon claims and seems to control are the means of consumption, us as consumers. But they may find themselves trying to herd cats.

Joe Konrath makes much of the question of incremental costs vs markups, something I discovered as a child when my father compared the prices he was paid for his cattle and barley and wheat and beets with store food prices. Perhaps Nathan had a similar experience with rice. Irish farmers organized themselves into cooperatives to sell more directly to consumers, but the cooperatives gradually became more and more like the corporate middle-men they were supposed to replace.

I think Nathan once suggested the future of publishing might not be all that different from the present, with the same or similar people doing the same or similar things, but grouped differently and under different titles and descriptions. You never know.

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Re: JA Konrath

Post by JennaSaisPas » September 30th, 2010, 10:25 pm

I love Nathan's POV on all this, and I'm impressed by Joe.

I'm actually thinking of trying some of this Kindle jazz out. An hour a day of my internet farting-about could be used as my hour a day of promotion, blog posting, etc.

I'm actually working on a grand experiment, which will involve an ebook anthology created from scratch. I'll be blogging all the minutiae, sales details, etc. Just for fun. I have 2 writers on board, so just need 2 more...
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by Rik » October 2nd, 2010, 6:36 am

Margo wrote:He started out with the traditional publishing houses and had several books on the shelves. Now he's writing books specifically for release online and is making more money than he did with a traditional publisher. It was traditional publishing, however, that launched him and helped him build the audience that he has continued to build through a crazy amount of self-promotion.

From what I can tell, he has always been a hyper-self-promoter. Frankly, he has spent more time pressing the flesh at bookstores and conferences than I could imagine. I absolutely think writers getting ready to develop an online presence and authors gearing up to promote an upcoming release would benefit from looking at his methods and recommendations and trying out the ones that fit their personality and the time they have available. The last update I saw from Konrath on his blog was about how he now intends to scale back the travel and promotion to concentrate on writing and family.
This.

Without a platform to attract potential customers/readers, you won't sell many (or any) eBooks. Joe's latest posts on his blog seem to be suggesting that anyone can make good sales if they follow his publishing model, but it's not that simple. People need to know your book exists before they can buy it: no paradigm shift in the publishing world can change that fact.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by JennaSaisPas » October 2nd, 2010, 1:27 pm

Rik wrote: This.

Without a platform to attract potential customers/readers, you won't sell many (or any) eBooks. Joe's latest posts on his blog seem to be suggesting that anyone can make good sales if they follow his publishing model, but it's not that simple. People need to know your book exists before they can buy it: no paradigm shift in the publishing world can change that fact.
Yeah, except for all the people that didn't have platform, followed Joe's lead, and are outselling him on a per-title basis. They crop up a fair bit on his blog. These are people with no previous publications, no well-followed blog.

I think there are a lot of people like me out there - those who would have read more if we had more books, but we were too broke to buy them, and had no way to get to a library. $28 hardcover vs $5 for a Kindle book or even $8 paperback vs. $5 or less, I can afford to read a lot more. And do.

Sure, this won't work for everyone. Yeah, the writing has to be good. Yes, it involves the writer doing more than writing, such as promotion, posting on blogs, mentioning the release on kindleboards, and getting people to review on Goodreads and the like. But it can work. One lady commented that she's gone from working 40 hours a week to working 10 hours a week and writing 30 hours a week since putting her book on kindle - it's done decently for her, and I'm glad. Thing is, she's not alone. Joe put a list of 40+ authors on a recent post - those who are indie and doing well, and some had no platform.

Yeah, the publishing behemoth *can* promote in a way your average writer cannot - and they often don't. If you're going to have to do your own promotion anyway, why not take more of the cut? Or do you just want to take the reeeeaaaaalllly long odds?

It comes down to a choice - Who is willing to try this, and possibly do quite well? or Who is willing to possibly never be published, but maybe will be?

It won't work for everyone, but it CAN work.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by Rik » October 2nd, 2010, 11:17 pm

JennaSaisPas wrote:Yeah, except for all the people that didn't have platform, followed Joe's lead, and are outselling him on a per-title basis. They crop up a fair bit on his blog. These are people with no previous publications, no well-followed blog.

...

Sure, this won't work for everyone. Yeah, the writing has to be good. Yes, it involves the writer doing more than writing, such as promotion, posting on blogs, mentioning the release on kindleboards, and getting people to review on Goodreads and the like. But it can work. One lady commented that she's gone from working 40 hours a week to working 10 hours a week and writing 30 hours a week since putting her book on kindle - it's done decently for her, and I'm glad. Thing is, she's not alone. Joe put a list of 40+ authors on a recent post - those who are indie and doing well, and some had no platform.

Yeah, the publishing behemoth *can* promote in a way your average writer cannot - and they often don't. If you're going to have to do your own promotion anyway, why not take more of the cut? Or do you just want to take the reeeeaaaaalllly long odds?

It comes down to a choice - Who is willing to try this, and possibly do quite well? or Who is willing to possibly never be published, but maybe will be?

It won't work for everyone, but it CAN work.
'kay, obviously the stuff I put out is not up to standard (as crass as I am at networking). That must be why people ain't biting.

I still say if you want to sell your books using the new paradigm you need a platform (or a hell of a lot of friends willing to do the legwork to promote your tomes without it looking like a 'please buy my book' fair). Self-pub ain't an automatic ticket to fame and riches, and Joe's success story is a little unfair to us wannabes, given the help he's had building his platform - innit.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by steve » October 4th, 2010, 11:14 am

"Sure, J.A. Konrath is selling a lot of ebooks. But you aren't J.A. Konrath."

I hear that a lot. Not directed toward me, since I am, in fact, J.A. Konrath. But I hear other authors being told this. And to my face I hear that I'm an anomaly and no other self-pubbed author will ever do as well.
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Re: JA Konrath

Post by Margo » October 4th, 2010, 12:04 pm

steve wrote:
Full post here.
I also the notice the comment from the indie author who made it up to #26,000 in kindle books within just a few days, by selling three copies.

I repeat what I believe and what Konrath used to profess, before it became awfully good business to be the poster boy for self-pubbing: It's a mid-listers game. And a powerful game, for them.
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